I'm tired of hearing about impossible challenges

Article

When you remove barriers, you're free to realize your true potential.

The proof: Roger Bannister, the man who broke the four-minute mile in May 1954. Physiologists and medical experts agreed that the human heart would burst if pushed to complete a mile in less than four minutes. The world's top track coaches discouraged their athletes from attempting the feat out of fear for their safety. It couldn't, shouldn't, and wouldn't be done. But it was.

Ernest E. Ward Jr., DVM

Bannister trained with no coach and was never told his heart was in jeopardy. He accomplished what many sports experts call the greatest athletic event of the century, because no one told him he couldn't, shouldn't, or wouldn't. He just did.

And once he did, psychological barriers fell. Just 46 days later, John Landy broke his record. And almost 1,000 runners have followed, including several high schoolers and a 41-year-old Irishman.

In veterinary practice, I believe we often erect arbitrary psychological barriers that limit our professional and personal potential. For example, we believe that extending vaccine protocols will negatively impact our incomes, that our clients won't pay for our expertise, and that our employees can't perform complex tasks or properly educate clients. We believe we don't have time to exercise, de-stress, train our teams, pursue our own continuing education, and still maintain a healthy home life. But it's just not true. We can overcome these barriers if we open the door to the possibility of success.

We live in an exciting time. Technological advances coupled with swelling public appreciation of the importance of pets allow us to perform "miracles" compared with the care veterinarians could offer clients and patients 50 years ago. True, change isn't always comfortable, but unless we each take that first step to address the challenges our profession faces, we'll find ourselves mired in a self-imposed state of limitation. And our patients, clients, and staff will ultimately suffer.

The good news: When you take action, your energy and behavior cause a tiny ripple throughout your entire practice—and possibly the whole profession. So, for example, if I change my vaccine protocols, that decision will resonate in everything my team does and with everyone we come in contact with. The change will remind us that one size doesn't fit all and that we need to personalize our recommendations based on the who and the why, not just the when.

Every day energized and passionate veterinary hospital teams across North America and Western Europe are breaking barriers and replacing them with speedways of progress. Are you on the fast track, too? Or are you blocked by a wall of shouldn't, couldn't, or wouldn't when you face a change?

Change isn't optional; just ask the next brachiosaurus you meet. Responding to change effectively is our professional responsibility. And the changes we face may, in fact, represent our greatest opportunities. Now go have a great run.

Veterinary Economics Editorial Advisory Board member Dr. Ernest E. Ward Jr. owns Seaside Animal Care in Calabash, N.C., and is an author, lecturer, and triathlon competitor. Please send your questions and comments tove@advanstar.com.

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